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The following stories from the March 6, 2009, edition of AOPA ePilot were provided to AOPA members who expressed an interest in the particular subject areas. Any AOPA member can receive information tailored to their areas of interest by updating their preferences online.


Rules of the runup

You familiarized yourself with taxi routes, heeded signs you encountered along the way, and arrived at the assigned takeoff runway, taxiing at safe speed as discussed in the Feb. 27 “ Training Tip.” Now it’s time to perform an engine runup and the other pre-takeoff checks. Well—that’s how you visualized departing from this busy airport that was the destination on your solo cross-country.


But there’s a surprise: Unlike other airports you’ve visited, the runup area is not immediately adjacent to the runway threshold. It’s possible that considerable time might pass between runup and departure. Many student pilots facing this situation wonder: “Should that change the way I should do my pre-takeoff checks?”


Great question! Indeed, making this kind of strategic decision helps satisfy the before-takeoff check and airport-operations tasks in the Private Pilot Practical Test Standards.


No change in procedures should compromise safety or cause you to forget a step in your pre-takeoff preparations (such as activating the transponder). One solution to discuss with your instructor is learning to use a “segmented checklist” described by Ralph Butcher on the AOPA Flight Training Web Site in “ Before Takeoff Checklist—Understanding the Benefits of Segmented Checklists”: “The before-takeoff checklist is meant to be completed down to ‘final items’ after you conduct the engine runup and systems checks. This stopping point is convenient when there are takeoff delays or when the runup area is not located at the end of the active runway. You go on to complete the final items when you are number one for takeoff, with the exception of lights, camera, action. These items are executed when you are cleared onto the runway for takeoff,” he wrote. (“Camera” refers to the transponder. “Action” means checking engine instruments during takeoff.)


Sometimes at airports where no fixed runup area exists, it’s necessary to perform checklists at unusual locations. For example: “To contain aircraft noise within airport boundaries, avoid performing engine runups at the ends of runways near housing developments. Instead, select a location for engine runup closer to the center of the field,” advises one of 13 noise-awareness recommendations in AOPA’s Handbook for Pilots .


Safety first! Then make the needed adjustments for the layout of airports you visit.


King Schools updates online icing operations course

In the wake of the crash of a commuter jet that may have been attributable to airframe icing, King Schools Inc. announced it has updated its Icing Operations online course to include more information on tail-plane stall recognition and recovery. Those who purchased the previous version of the course can get a free update. The course sells for $249. See the Web site or call 800/854-1001.

Note: Products listed have not been evaluated by ePilot editors unless otherwise noted. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors.


Question: My instructor and I are flying into a Class B airport next week. I know I need a transponder with Mode C capabilities. But why do I need it, and how do I know if my transponder has Mode C?


Answer: Mode C is the technology that transmits your aircraft’s altitude onto the air traffic controllers’ radar scopes. Because of the increased amount of traffic in Class B airspace, it’s important for controllers to know at precisely what altitude you are flying. You can verify that your transponder has Mode C capabilities by referencing the current weight and balance equipment list for your aircraft. To learn more about Mode C transponders, check out this article from AOPA Flight Training .


Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail to [email protected] or call the Pilot Information Center, 800/872-2672. Don't forget the online archive of "Final Exam" questions and answers, searchable by keyword or topic.

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